• What Is Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE)?

    Written By: Kierstan Boyd
    Feb. 06, 2019

    Iridocorneal endothelial syndrome (ICE) is a rare eye condition. The three main features of ICE include:

    ICE is a group of conditions related to changes in corneal cells and the iris. The syndrome almost always involves cells moving from the cornea to the iris. Loss of cells from the cornea can cause corneal swelling, and the iris and pupil can become distorted. When the corneal cells move, they can block fluid from draining properly through the eye’s microscopic drainage channels. This blockage causes pressure in the eye to build, leading to glaucoma.

    Who is at Risk for Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE)?

    Women get ICE more often than men. The syndrome is usually diagnosed in midlife. Typically, ICE affects only one eye.


    The causes of ICE are not fully known. Some ophthalmologists believe a virus, like herpes simplex, may trigger it. The virus then causes the cornea to swell.


    People with ICE may have pain or blurry vision in one eye or notice changes in the iris or pupil.


    An ophthalmologist will perform a complete eye exam and some other tests to diagnose ICE.

    The exam will usually show:

    • changes in the iris
    • swelling of the cornea, and
    • increased pressure in the eye (glaucoma)


    There is no way to stop the progression of ICE. Treatment is usually focused on managing the glaucoma. Glaucoma treatment involves medication or possibly surgery. This helps reduce pressure in the eye.

    Your ophthalmologist might prescribe medication to help reduce corneal swelling. In some cases, a cornea transplant may be necessary.

    There is no way to stop the progression of ICE. Treatment is usually focused on managing the glaucoma and reducing corneal swelling.

    If you have any questions about your vision, speak with your ophthalmologist. He or she is committed to protecting your sight.